This week on stuff I'm talking about Building Inspections. Lots of them. One thing is that is outside of their remit is looking at the waste created in the build process. As part of our plan to "green up" our new home, we've talked the folk at Homestar about certifying our house when it's all done and dusty...sure sure it's supposed to be dusted, but most likely, we'll be living there before the dust has truly settled.
The Homestar system is a bit like the Energy star rating for appliances, and it's still relatively new, but it basically boils down to making a gigantic check list of all the materials that go into making your site and build, a home and rating everything against a set of criteria. Some products have certified eco credentials (paint from Resene for example has less nasties (Environmental Choice paint in this case) in the mix than some others).
But the Homestar rating also takes into account how you will live in your house, so you get points for example on how close you are to a bus stop, schools, banks, that sort of thing. I'll go into it more if and when we get closer to doing our full audit, but for the moment, we're trying to make sure we're following the principles that make sense to us anyway. One of these is having a waste management plan.
Building sites are notoriously wasteful. If you're fighting the clock because owners want to get in to their new house, picking up a new piece of timber and cutting it to size is much quicker than sorting through a big pile of offcuts to see if there is something in there you can use. It does however, then lead to a whole lot of timber, metal, plasterboard...pretty much everything used in construction, being thrown into a big pile that goes to landfill, usually by way of a skip.
We've chosen to not have a skip as long as we can manage it. We have a big site so can manage having piles of offcuts just sitting round, and because we do want to reduce, reuse and recycle where we can, we've committed to trying to sort through those piles ourselves. So far, that has meant Mr BuildingBoxes, a friend Ben, and the younger Building Box Boys, throwing piles of timber from one pile to another in the hope that by stacking all the offcuts neatly (to show their sizes and whether they're treated or untreated) the builders will be able to use them rather than reaching for a new piece. It will save us money, but it takes time to do the sorting, serious time, and takes a little commitment from the build team too so it depends who and how you're working. There will still be waste, unless you are SUPER committed and probably building it yourself, but, we're hoping to at least minimize it.
So far, so not bad though. We still haven't got a skip, and we've got plans for the offcuts from the retaining wall posts and left over roofing iron in the kids play area thanks to some clever landscape thinking from the Unitec Landscape Architecture team. The Building Boxes Boys are very excited.
A family of four: writer, scientist, lego engineer and destruction specialist. Our previous home is featured in New Zealand Interior Style and this new project promises to provide plenty of great, green, smart and maybe madcap solutions to new building in New Zealand.